CAMH and the conflict with start-up culture


I was admitted to CAMH twice in 2019. Both episodes for me question the validity of the “nanny state”, and being a “ward of the state”. This is a question that should trouble left-libertarians across the spectrum.

CAMH is a pure bureaucracy.

The plastic cups in which you are served your medication is promptly discarded, after 3 seconds of use. Is that justified? I wonder what Elizabeth May would have to say about this policy.

I met with a social worker on the ward today. It was more than a pleasant conversation. Why? The social worker was receptive to my feedback. My feedback was steeped in the start-up culture of rolling up your sleeves and getting down to work.

What did I suggest? The topic I’ve been discussing with the social worker had to do with housing. The topic of housing is of great interest to virtually anyone who is admitted to the psychiatric wards in Canada. There is peril which is palpable.

My conversation went from being offered shelters for substance abuse survivors to discussing curriculum for patients regarding how to use Kijiji to vett scam offers, and how to use resources that the City of Toronto might have to report and deal with fiscal crimes.

It was a productive conversation.

The takeaway? Start-up culture teaches you how to work within constraints in a unique austerity kinda way. The chief constraint at CAMH, or the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health is one of grotesque bureaucracy. The edges, front-line staff, have next to 0 input in using their discretion. Virtually everything is dictated, literally in some cases, from the top. There’s very little room for bottom-up feedback. My productive conversation with the social worker was an example of innovation under austerity.

You can learn more about that here from Eben Moglen.

Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash